The Anti Tobacco Forum (ATF), Mysuru, has criticised the Centre’s decision to waive the penalty on the excess and unauthorised tobacco cultivated by farmers in Karnataka during the 2023-24 crop season.
Terming the Centre’s recent decision to allow the farmers to sell the excess and unauthorised tobacco without penalty during the ensuing crop season as “violation of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) 2003, ATF Convenor Vasanthkumar Mysoremath called upon the government to rescind the concessions given to tobacco farmers.
“Is India sincere about tobacco control? WHO must take notice of this blatant violation and interference with the National Tobacco Control Program”, he said before adding that the recent decision of the government was not acceptable under any count.
He contended that these sops given to tobacco farmers will only attract more farmers, who will give up cultivation of food grains and take up tobacco farming, thereby endangering the country’s food security.
By allowing non-licensed farmers to market their produce, government of India has opened up a huge opportunity for all farmers to shift over to tobacco. The Tobacco Board has relaxed its own Act of 1975 to give itself the power to extend these concessions, thus paving the way to grant fresh licenses that had been stopped in the interest of health of the people, he said.
It may be mentioned here that Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry had, in a recent notification, waived penalties to be levied on sale of excess tobacco produced by licensed growers and unauthorised tobacco grown by unlicensed farmers during the crop season 2023-24 in view of the drought situation prevailing in the State.
The Tobacco Board, which controls tobacco cultivation in the country, had permitted Karnataka to cultivate only 100 million kg during the ensuing season and fixed quota for individual farmers.
Mr. Mysoremath has also urged the government of India to levy maximum tax on all tobacco products recommended in WHO FCTC protocol that has been ratified by the Parliament of India.